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Could unified communications be the next engine of growth?

July 11, 2013

John Hayduk   

Blog Contributor

As human beings we’re programmed to communicate in so many ways, with a rich complexity of methods to communicate emotion, engagement, information and connections.

As human beings we’re programmed to communicate in so many ways, with a rich complexity of methods to communicate emotion, engagement, information and connections. Whether it’s the subtle physical cues we all pick up in every day conversation or the language we choose to use with colleagues or with family, communications is the ultimate representation of the diversity of this planet.

Delivering that ability to communicate globally through technology is a must-ask for businesses. The potential for using unified communications to enable higher levels of collaboration, and through that, enhance the productivity available from human capital is immense. Put simply, it is about enabling growth.

However, there is a challenge. Many businesses and organisations, particularly those working across the globe, have embraced some of the communications channels available to them internally. The ability to have in-office meetings in many markets via teleconference or even videoconference is now well established.  Similarly, collaboration tools are increasingly relied upon to help deliver cross-border projects.

Where the challenge lies is extending that level of communication and collaboration outside the organisation’s boundaries – and there is a very simple reason for that. As things stand there is a lack of consistency in the standards across applications, particularly when it comes to video, desktop sharing and collaboration tools. This means that today unified communications is in the main platform addressing internal issues and not enhancing productivity when it comes to third party suppliers, partners and customers. Open standards are key to realising the full growth potential of unified communications.

Video is the foundation stone of unified communications, delivering and offering the most effective and engaging result for users. Delivering video solutions globally and across corporate boundaries needs a level of infrastructure that works to minimise cost and risk and to maximise bandwidth and quality. Real time 2-way video calls have a significant cost impact on networks in terms of the bandwidth requirements and the management overhead. Solving that problem has been one of the leading focus areas in realising the potential of unified communications.

The demands of video are far greater on the network. If you just look at the bandwidth requirements it is clear that where an audio call might take up tens of kilobytes, a video call might eat up ten times that. Then again the tolerance for jitter and latency is much less for video than audio consumers – with video stream the mistakes are clearly visible. Any way you look at it video is resource hungry…

So how do we deal with that? Our approach has been to help enterprises get their video requirements off their network and onto our network as quickly as possible so they leverage the scale of our network and capacity to ensure their video is delivered safely, efficiently and cleanly. That approach also ensures a robust level of security and privacy.

We know that enterprises are demanding ever higher quality of video solutions as their own employees, customers, partners and suppliers are bringing their own personal experiences and devices into play in the work place. So if unified communications is going to realise its potential then we need to ensure that the organisational experience matches, if not exceeds, the personal one. Companies are already reaping benefits – one company I know of has reduced travel by double digit percentages, others have seen a significant improvement in  work / life balance across its employees. The great promise of video and unified communications is that it enables organisations to truly leverage their greatest asset – the people who work for and with it.